Rona Home and Garden's Coal-Spewing Ways

Left: Home Depot’s modern, efficient lighting.  Right: Rona’s wasteful, antiquated lighting.

One of the hardest things about being aware and concerned about the environmental crisis is witnessing how many profitable planet-saving measures are ignored. Take lighting. Investments in new lighting technology can often pay themselves off in two years or less.

That’s why I’m frustrated with the approach taken by Rona Home and Garden. Rona’s President and CEO Robert Dutton recently claimed that “at RONA, we are committed to sustainable development from a social, economic and environmental perspective. This includes making a difference in Canadian communities…” (source).

And yet Rona store at 10450-42nd Avenue is wasting huge amounts of polluting electricity and money by lighting with 1960s-era technology. And that hurts my Canadian community.

Rona’s Dirty Old Technology

I did a walk-through recently, and came up with the following estimate of the 42nd Avenue store’s electricity use from lighting. This estimate is almost certainly biased in Rona’s favour because there is much information that I don’t know, so I’ve given Rona the benefit of the doubt as much as possible:

  • I estimate that there are about 500 metal halide lamps (lights) in the 42nd Ave. store (see above, right).
  • They consume, conservatively speaking, 320 Watts each (it could be as high as 460 Watts, but I can’t tell from visual observation alone).
  • These 500 lamps, assuming that they’ve been in service for 10,000 hours, consume about 160,000 Watts when turned on

On the other hand..

The efficient lighting used at, say, Home Depot’s 6725-104 Street store (pictured above at left),  could provide the same amount of light at a burn rate of 129,000 Watts.

Assuming that Rona has its lights on one hour before and one hour after closing, its lights are turned on for about 113 hours/week (source). If it updated to modern lighting, the Rona store on 42nd Avenue could save 3503 kWh per week, worth about $350. In case you’re counting, that’s 182,156 kWh and $18,216 per year.

Given that a kWh of electricity in Alberta is responsible for about 1 kg of carbon dioxide, Rona could therefore reduce the emissions of their store by 182 metric tonnes per year of CO2, while saving money in the process. It would be like taking 35 cars off the road for good.

Until Rona cleans up its act (in a profitable venture, I might add), its green claims will continue to ring hollow. Come on Rona Home and Garden! Do Edmonton and yourself a favour. Stop your polluting ways.

Note: My information comes from a contact that I have in the lighting industry. I believe that it is biased in Rona’s favour, and does not include factors such as motion sensors and variable lighting modes that could be incorporated with new technology.

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I've read that metal halide lamps are generally more efficient than fluorescent lamps (more lumens/watt), and can be more directed too, allowing you to get away with more strategic placement of lights.

I'm not clear on how switching to fluorescents would actually be better?

In response to Chris' post/ contraire, mon frère. Standard metal halide lighting fixtures are much less efficient than the T5HO (fluorescent) counterpart. Most spun aluminum domes (typical housing for the metal halide bulb) are only 70-75% efficient and the metal halide bulbs have terrible lumen maintenance. (i.e., the amount of light coming from the standard metal halide bulb degrades vastly and quickly to the point that it is typically giving out only 65% of it's initial light output at it's mean life) These two percentages coupled together do not an efficient system make. The T5HO (fluorescent) "equivalent" lighting fixture often has a 90%+ efficiency rating and the bulb has a lumen maintenance of 95%. Add to this the metal halide lamp (bulb) life being approximately half of the T5HO (fluorescent) lamp and the choice becomes even more clear. Lumens per watt, when calculated properly, greatly favours the T5HO (fluorescent) lamp. Industry standard has been approximately twice the lumens per watt for the T5HO (fluorescent) system.
The point about directing the light is a bit misleading. When it comes to sportslighting (i.e., the floodlighting at an Eskimos or Oilers game) the HID option is good. When it comes to commercial-retail (Home Depot or RONA), warehouse lighting, or even gymnasiums or most hockey arenas, T5HO fluorescent choices make the most sense.

*NOTE: California Title 20 has legally eliminated the standard metal halide lamp in many applications because of it's poor energy performance.

Conrad is right, metal halide lamps are very old and energy wasting technology. T5HO lamps are a big improvement and you are beginning to see them in more commercial locations. Having said that lets not forget the most efficient lighting is LED. There are LED lights available that are designed to light commercial box stores, arenas and any large space where one might consider the T5HO. Having attended Lightfair2010 a month ago it was very clear what direction the lighting industry is going. There were about 500 exhibitors at the show and about 80% were LED related. This was a general lighting show, not an LED show. On display were lights to meet any application you would be faced with. Please do not judge LED lights by what you see in Rona and Home Depot now. Lets keep open to all the possible solutions to wasted energy and be sure LEDs are in the mix. General consensus after the show was by 2013 LED lights will be the light of choice for both commercial and residential.

LED Lights Canada
"your Canadian LED solution"

Before everyone goes out and buys an LED, you should understand that this market is far from maturity. Harvey is correct in that a lot of work is being done to make LEDs the "next thing" but you should also know that this market is littered with garbage and... the products being promoted by larger lighting entities are first run and haven't yet gone through a full maintenance cycle. Should you make the wrong choice when buying the sexy LEDs, you will not only have paid 5 to 10+ times what conventional lighting would have cost you, you will likely not get the longevity and performance desired. It is very early in this game and like the test pilots trying to break the sound barrier... a lot will blow up.

If you take into account all factors in your assessment of "the most efficient" light source, LEDs have not yet arrived to take on MOST general lighting applications. This is not to say they won't in the future, but presently, they have a ways to go. Until this day arrives, watch how you spend your money.

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